"Un català mundial": Catalan Nationalism and the Early Works of Roberto Gerhard
Perry, Mark E.
University of Kansas
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The early works of Roberto Gerhard reflect the shifting cultural discourse within Catalan nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. As a means of fostering cultural independence from the rest of Spain, Catalan national sentiment gradually switched to the promotion of modernist ideologies, which were previously rejected in the defense and preservation of traditional culture. This paradigm shift in Catalan nationalism manifests in the music of Gerhard. Branded as "un català mundial" (an international Catalan), Gerhard sought to participate in the greater world of modern music. While in Switzerland studying commerce, the young Gerhard switched to the study of music. The events of World War I forced Gerhard, then studying in Germany, to return to Spain. In Barcelona, Gerhard studied with Felipe Pedrell from 1916 to 1921. Gerhard received his earliest musical successes with public performances and publication of a number of his works; however, unconvinced of his abilities, Gerhard traveled to Andalusia in a failed attempt to study with Manuel de Falla. Seeking out a new musical direction, Gerhard once again left Spain. He began his studies with Arnold Schoenberg in Vienna in 1923, following his teacher to Berlin. Gerhard's first atonal works appeared during this period, applying modernist techniques even in his overtly Catalan works. In 1929, he returned to Barcelona, and controversy quickly ensued after an all-Gerhard concert was held to celebrate his homecoming. A debate in the press following the concert took place between the conservative Lluís Millet, whose works conventionally incorporated traditional music, and Gerhard, a disciple of Schoenberg--each arguing for their visions of Catalan music. Gerhard's works from this period reflect an advanced synthesis of Catalan elements and modern music. While Gerhard utilized obvious markers of Catalan national identity (Catalan poetry, traditional music, choral singing, and the sardana), ultimately, what served to foster a stark contrast with the rest of Spain was the universality of his works. His musical activities in composition, research, and criticism echoed the shifting cultural dialogue within Catalonia; however, all was cut short in 1939 as a result of the Spanish Civil War, forcing Gerhard into exile.
- Dissertations 
- Music Dissertations and Theses 
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